High School Project Articles and News Updates
BLUEPRINT QV NEWS -- August 31, 2021
BLUEPRINT QV NEWS -- June 8, 2021
BLUEPRINT QV NEWS -- May 11, 2021
BLUEPRINT QV NEWS -- May 5, 2021
BLUEPRINT QV NEWS -- April 13, 2021
BLUEPRINTQV NEWS -- March 16, 2021, High School Project Update
Some have wondered why the concept of the referendum, contemplated 4+ years ago, is no longer a central feature of the District’s plans.
At the most basic level, it’s because we are in a markedly stronger, more flexible financial position today than we were then. As such, the condition for fielding a referendum – namely a need to exceed Act 1 Tax and Borrowing limits imposed on us by the State of PA – no longer exists as it might have several years ago.
So what has changed?
Well, the extended search for suitable land, the protracted transaction process, a mid-stream change in Administrative leadership – and more recently the understandable distractions associated with a global pandemic – have all conspired to create a meaningful passage of time since the notion of referendum was first floated. The downside of this passage of time is further delays to a desperately needed new facility. But the delay has not been without meaningful silver linings:
First, and fortuitously, this passage of time moved us directly into the heart of a historically low interest rate environment. This, in turn, allowed us to adroitly retire and/or refinance millions and millions of higher-priced debt over the last several years. In the process, we have reduced our debt load and debt service costs while expanding our borrowing capacity vs 2017 levels.
Second, we have spent the last few years listening to the community’s input about wants and needs for a new HS and working with thought partners on the most cost-efficient and effective way of delivering on these objectives. Through this iterative scoping process is far from finished, it has helped us refine land utilization plans, optimize footprint design, and tighten budget assumptions. This, in turn, has given us confidence that we can deliver on the community’s mandate without piercing our Act 1 Tax and Borrowing limits.
Some in the community have suggested that we should use the Referendum as a non-binding ‘preference survey’ or ‘opinion poll’ to measure community support for the project. The reality is that the State of Pennsylvania Election Code does not give election boards discretion to authorize non-binding Referendum questions on the ballot. In order to place a non-binding resolution on the ballot, there must be specific statutory authority to do so.
The fact is that there are limited instances and conditions where a school district is required to place a referendum on the ballot regarding a school construction project. The QVSD high school project does not meet these conditions. More broadly in the state of PA, referendums on public school projects are neither common nor ordinary practice.
Though a referendum is not an appropriate remedy here, it is important to note that the District is required, by statute, to hold a public hearing on the high school project. And it is the Administration & Board’s intent to supplement our statutory requirements with a series of additional public review and comment sessions to ensure the community continues to have a voice in this process.
I hope this helps provide clarity on the topic of referendums. In the end, a referendum in the state of Pennsylvania is designed to address a math problem. At one point, under a much different fact set, this District may have had a math problem. With the passage of time and adroit financial stewardship, we no longer have a math problem. What we do have is a high school facility problem and the community support to address it together in a fiscally responsible, future-facing way.
For those interested in learning more about this topic or others related to the HS Project, please visit QVSD.org and click the BluePrintQV link."
BLUEPRINTQV NEWS -- February 9, 2021, High School Project Update
BLUEPRINTQV NEWS -- January 12, 2021, High School Project Update
BLUEPRINTQV NEWS -- October 21, 2020, High School Project Update
On Tuesday, October 20, 2020, Quaker Valley’s Director of Facilities, Mr. Charlie Gauthier, provided an update on the high school project.
On Wednesday, October 21, 2020, the District will meet with the Leet Township Planning commission to review the New Quaker Valley High School preliminary site plan. Mr. Gauthier expects the planning commission to table the topic because schools are a Special Exception use within AAA zoning.
The next step will be for the District to go to the Leet Township Zoning Board in November to take up the Special Exception use.
Then the District can go back to the Planning Commission in December.
After that, the goal will be for the District to look for an architect for the project.
BLUEPRINTQV NEWS -- June 9, 2020, PFM Financial Advisors Present Possible Funding Scenarios for New High School
BLUEPRINTQV NEWS -- May 18, 2020, Quaker Valley School District Presents Findings for a New High School
In 2020, we’re proud to continue advancing the work of past school board members, superintendents, and administrators while working to understand the needs and demands of our school district now and in the future.
In the fall of 2019, the Board hired Thomas and Williamson to evaluate plans for a new high school. Jon Thomas, president and co-founder of the firm, presented his findings, including initial cost estimates for a new school at a virtual board meeting on Tuesday, May 12, 2020.
“We are happy that this culmination of work has brought us to the point where we can share this extensive research with the community,” said School Board Vice President Jonathan Kuzma. Read More
BLUEPRINTQV NEWS -- May 12, 2020, School Board Meeting
BLUEPRINTQV NEWS -- Video March 10, 2020
BLUEPRINTQV NEWS -- March 10, 2020, School Board Meeting
QVSD IN THE NEWS -- FEBRUARY 27, 2020
Quaker Valley School District Saves Millions by Refinancing Bonds
Quaker Valley School District has saved $4.7 million by refinancing a significant portion of its existing debt. Taking advantage of all-time low interest rate levels, on February 27, 2020, the District refinanced approximately $27.5 million in bonds by issuing new bonds at much lower rates.
The original bonds were from 2010 and were used to pay for the renovation and expansion at Quaker Valley Middle School. The other bonds being refinanced, which were issued in 2005 and 2006 to pay for the elementary school renovations, were first refinanced in 2014.
"The timing was right to take advantage of favorable rates and save the district taxpayers millions in future debt payments. We have been monitoring the market while working on several capital funding scenarios to minimize the tax impact of the future capital projects,” explains Director of Finance and Operations, Scott Antoline. “This refinancing was a critical component to help reduce our debt burden and allow for some capacity to help limit future tax increases.”
The Quaker Valley School Board unanimously agreed to authorize the refinancing at the February 18, 2020 board meeting.
"The Board is very grateful to our finance team for swift movement to hit the market at such a low point and save the District millions of dollars. We understand the importance of this as we continue to formulate funding plans for the new high school. We fully intend to implement a fiscally responsible project that balances the value of long term benefit to our community and does so within the mandated fiscal constraints to minimize the potential tax impact,” says School Board President, Sarah Heres.
BLUEPRINTQV NEWS -- FEBRUARY 27, 2020Quaker Valley Superintendent Tammy A. Andreyko discusses communication updates for the District.
BLUEPRINTQV NEWS -- NOVEMBER 22, 2019
Quaker Valley plans for new school move ahead
The Quaker Valley School Board on Tuesday authorized the issuance of up to $10 million in bonds, payable over 25 years, toward the construction of a new high school on property between Camp Meeting Road and Little Sewickley Creek Road. Read more here.
BLUEPRINTQV NEWS -- NOVEMBER 4, 2019
Two Minutes with the Superintendent
BLUEPRINT QV NEWS -- SEPTEMBER 27, 2019
Quaker Valley takes another step toward a new high school
Board members on Sept. 24 approved an agreement with PFM Financial Advisors to help the district develop a long-term financing plan for the new high school.
This follows board action Aug. 20 to approve a contract with Thomas & Williamson at a cost not to exceed $69,200 to work with the district to develop requests for proposals for design and construction work. The money will be taken from the 2017 construction fund.
“These are strong steps forward toward a very exciting time in Quaker Valley School District,” Superintendent Tammy Andreyko said in a statement. “We look forward to developing a new high school for the community which will serve the district and meet the needs of our students for decades to come.”
Quaker Valley leaders maintain a new high school is needed to replace the nearly 100-year-old building students are learning in today.
BLUEPRINTQV NEWS -- FEBRUARY 11, 2019
Designing for Success: An Evening with the Superintendent
At the end of January, Quaker Valley Superintendent Dr. Tammy Andreyko kicked off Blueprint QV: Designing for Success, our initiative based on key strategic priorities that will keep QV thriving. The cornerstone of Blueprint QV is building a new high school for the next century of learning.
Watch the Designing for Success program:
View the video about the BlueprintQV cornerstone project - building a new Quaker Valley High School:
QVSD IN THE NEWS -- JANUARY 31, 2019
Quaker Valley High School, in a leafy century-old borough on the Ohio River near Pittsburgh, does not look like a hothouse of teenage academic ambition and curiosity. But it is.
In 2016, one of its students, Gabriel Weiner, took and passed 20 Advanced Placement tests, the most for any boy in Pennsylvania. Last year, 29 of Quaker Valley’s students took six to 14 college-level AP tests each, often after online courses or independent study with little teacher involvement. Some of its students with learning disabilities take AP. The school does not label students as gifted, pays all AP fees and believes in saying “not yet” — rather than “no” — when a student asks to do something many educators would consider crazy.
Letting students fly free is rare in American education. There are plenty of little public schools like Quaker Valley, with fewer than 700 students. But very few — I don’t know of any others — require AP exams of all AP students and let them take so many without teachers. Read more…
BLUEPRINTQV NEWS -- NOVEMBER 27, 2018
At its November 27, 2018, legislative meeting, the Quaker Valley School District (QVSD) Board of Directors, approved the purchase of the final parcel of property the District needed to continue moving toward the community’s long-held goal of constructing a new Quaker Valley High School.
This approximately 13.75-acre parcel (to be determined through final survey and due diligence), which straddles the boundary between Leet and Leetsdale Townships, abuts the properties off of Camp Meeting Road that QVSD purchased in 2017 and 2018 to be the site for the new high school. Read more…
BLUEPRINTQV NEWS -- OCTOBER 24, 2017
Board of Directors Approves $10 Million Bond Resolution for Land Purchase
On Tuesday, October 24, 2017, the Quaker Valley School District Board of Directors adopted a $10 million bond resolution allowing QVSD to borrow money before the end of the calendar year for the purchase of land for a new high school.
The need to purchase land for a new high school comes as an outgrowth of the Quaker Valley School District’s efforts to ensure it has the resources and tools to provide one the best public school educations in Pennsylvania. After reviewing its high school facility, QVSD concluded that no amount of modernization will allow its high school building to effectively meet the needs of students and educators and fulfill the rules and requirements of the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
The District’s engineers studied the land on which the current high school is constructed and concluded that constructing a new high school on its current site because it is not large enough to meet the District’s needs and 70% of the site sits within a floodplain.
Earlier this year, the Quaker Valley School Board voted to enter into a sales agreement with Three Rivers Trust to purchase a parcel of land in Leet Township, and Edgeworth and Leetsdale Boroughs that is located off of Camp Meeting Road.
Approving the $10 million debt financing allows the District to get better rates and have a bank qualified loan, which could save the District hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of the loan. The District has until December 27, 2017, to decide if it wants to buy the identified parcel of land. If the School Board approves the purchase, a sale will likely close in early 2018.
BLUEPRINTQV NEWS -- MAY 30, 2017
Quaker Valley School District Reaches Sales Agreement with Three Rivers Trust to Purchase Land
On Tuesday, May 30, 2017, the Quaker Valley School Board voted to enter into a sales agreement with Three Rivers Trust to purchase a parcel of land located in Leet Township and Edgeworth and Leetsdale Boroughs, at a price not to exceed $7.5 million. A final price for the land will be determined based on the net acreage of buildable land and following a period of due diligence by the District.
“By signing this agreement of sale, the district now has the ability to enter upon the property to conduct all necessary tests and inspections to determine, in its sole discretion, whether the property is suitable for its contemplated use as the site for a new high school facility,” adds School Board President Sarah Heres.
Presentations were made at Tuesday’s board meeting by the district’s legal counsel, its real estate consultant, engineers, and District Superintendent Dr. Heidi Ondek.
“The entire Board and its predecessors have invested years of work investigating all options at the current site and looking at other potential sites. When experts deemed the current site was not suitable for long-term investments and use, we immediately began a search for all possibilities inside and outside the district boundaries,” explains Facilities Chair David Pusateri.”
The school board voted to hire Phillips & Associates engineering firm to conduct due diligence tests and inspections of the property. The district has a period of 120 days to conduct due diligence inspections on the property.
Quaker Valley School District continues to gather input from the community and work with BrainSpaces, Inc., to develop an education plan. The education plan will guide the design of the high school facility. An architectural firm will be hired to develop construction plans.
“The way the district intends to afford this project is through long-term financing similar to how it has with other building projects. The costs associated with building a new school would be separate from the proposed operating budget for 2017-2018. Any project cannot force tax increases beyond the index or qualified exceptions, unless through voter referendum,” says Scott Antoline, Director of Finance.
QVSD IN THE NEWS -- FEBRUARY 7, 2019
Jay Matthews, Columnist
Patrick Cox, a junior at Quaker Valley High School in the Pittsburgh suburbs, has learning disabilities, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder — ADHD — or what he calls “not giving two licks.”
Like most special-education students in this country, he has an individualized education program, known as an IEP. It is supposed to help him overcome his disability. Such programs have mixed results, but Cox’s experience has been different because of the unusual character of his school. Read more…